I have been on more house tours than I can count at this point. Recently I have been showing a ton of houses, and I have experienced good and bad viewings with my buyers.
The vibe of the house can be just as important as the house itself. How comfortable the showing is can be the difference between a buyer making an offer, or putting the house on the back burner. I have had showings where the house was super cute, but my buyer couldn’t shake the off feeling they had while we were there, and it made the buyer go with the house that showed better. Sometimes a showing doesn’t have to be outright bad, but less good than another to lead to the buyer picking one house over the other.
So what should sellers do to create the best viewing experience possible? I will save the gold standard showing tips for another post. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
1.Leave for showings!
Leave 10-15 min prior to the time of the showing.
This is best case scenario. If the buyer shows up early, before the agent gets there, it is good for them to pull up to an empty driveway and really get a sense of what it would be like to own the house. Seeing a car in the driveway can worry the buyer that you are not leaving for the showing, or that somehow the days/times got mixed up. Many buyers feel awkward interacting with sellers when they are showing up to look through the house. Make it stress free and be gone for the showing! Take your cars with you if possible so it is clear you are gone.
2. Either turn on all-of-the lights, or leave them all off. It is unsettling when you show up to a half dark house. Is someone here? It’s vacant, so why are the rooms upstairs lit? It’s owner occupied but we have an appointment; are one of the owners in that solely lit room in the back of the house? Don’t make us wonder if someone is home! All the lights turned on is a good indication that it was set up like that for the showing. If you only want to leave a few lights on, have them make sense. Perhaps leaving the entry light, and living room light on, and the bedroom lights all off.
3. If the house is vacant, don’t leave random belongings or trash lying around. If there is a random pile of trash in the corner of a room, a pile of pillows and blankets in the middle of the floor, or stacked mattresses with a sheet messily thrown on top in an otherwise empty house… this gives the house an exorcism of Emily Rose vibe. Just get it out! This includes seemingly harmless belongings such as a random chair (staging or ghost chair), leftovers on the stove that didn’t make it into the trash (is someone squatting in this vacant-ish house?), random knickknacks, and toys. These items can be distracting, or put a buyer or their agent on edge that someone may actually be in the house…
4. Clean the house you are trying to sell. Cleaning goes such a long way. If you can deep clean, that is the gold standard for having the best viewing experience. At the very least, making the house not disgusting (trash, scum, dirty floors, etc) is the bare-minimum for not creeping anyone out. This includes not leaving your undergarments lying around, and keeping the space generally tidy if you are still living there.
5. Make special notes on the showing instructions when needed. Listing agents, if it is your first day on the market, and the sellers are going to be there cleaning, moving stuff out, etc, make a note of it on the showing instructions! Save the buyers agent and their client an awkward, “Hi can we show your house,” conversation. Especially if the sellers don’t seem to realize their house is actively on the market… yikes! If there is a contractor doing work at the house, please make a note so we are not startled when we find someone in the basement.
I am putting out these tips not just to accomplish decent showings for buyers, but to create a feeling of safety and comfort for us agents too! We all have stories about weird, creepy things happening while showing houses. Please help us not be reminded of those times, or worry we are about to add another story to our list!